Nectunt Blog

Social Dilemmas and Human Behavior


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Do monkeys outsmart us?

(This is an English translation of an entry I originally published in Spanish in Nada es Gratis, the leading economic blog in Spanish. Therefore, versión española is here)

Chimpancé-2A topic often featured in Nada es Gratis is the experimental evidence about different hypotheses or ideas. This is because in the last decades experimental (or behavioral) economics is becoming an important subfield of economics, aiming to understand how we behave in certain situations through an experimental approach. Therefore, readers of Nada es Gratis won’t find it strange that I am talking about this… except for the fact that I am going to discuss experiments with our closest relatives: primates, and in particular chimpanzees. The result is going to surprise you (or maybe not, in fact I’m not surprised by it): we people are dumber than monkeys! Continue reading

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Rationality and cooperation (I).

In my first entry on this blog, let me address a topic that constitutes a key point in almost any study on human behavior, namely rationality. The word rational belongs to everyday language, and its meaning depends strongly on the context in which it is used. Even in its technical sense, rationality does not have a single meaning, having different meanings in evolutionary biology, sociology, economics and politics. And even within a particular science, rationality may have different forms: the German sociologist Max Weber distinguished four types of rationality. Just as any other sociological approach, this interpretation has its detractors, among them pragmatists. In this entry, I will try to discuss what could be called rational in a certain number of situations modeled by game theory, and not always coincide with the classical definition of rationality as utility maximization.

(Versión en español aquí)
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